An after-hours telemedicine program allowed a Brooklyn-based skilled nursing facility to avoid nearly 100 hospitalizations and save roughly $1.5 million in Medicare costs over the course of a year. That’s according to a case study published in the August American Journal of Managed Care.
The study, led by David Chess, M.D., chief medical officer of Connecticut-based Tapestry Telehealth, focused on the 365-bed Cobble Hill Health Center, during the facility’s initial year of implementing TripleCare, an after-hours physician coverage service conducted via telehealth.
From March 2015 to March 2016, 313 patients received treatment through the service. Of those patients, 259 were treated via telemedicine, which involved a nurse discussing the patient’s condition with a company physician, a physician review of the patient’s history through the facility’s electronic health record, and if needed, a physical exam using a digital stethoscope and an 18x zoom camera. In total, 54 patients were transported to the hospital during the year. According to the skilled nursing facility’s medical director, 91 of the 259 patients treated at Cobble Hill would have required hospitalization had the facility not had access to telemedicine.
The study found that the telehealth service also reduced Medicare costs.
“As nursing facilities are called upon to care for higher-acuity patients and drive better clinical outcomes at a fraction of the cost of a hospitalization, systems that deliver quality physicians to the bedside at times of change of condition will be required,” the authors noted